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Crosslake Comp Plan update passed by P&Z

Web posted May 15, 2018
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

The Crosslake Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend adoption of the update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan with a few changes following a public hearing held at 9 a.m. Friday, May 11 at City Hall.

Tad Erickson of Region Five and Ashley Kaisershot of the National Joint Powers Alliance were hired as consultants by the City to help guide a local Steering Committee through the planning process that has been ongoing since April of 2017.Erickson said the process began by basing the plan update on the guiding principles developed by the local Crosslakers organization that were formed following a series of visits by the Minnesota Design Team (MDT). The principles that form the foundation of the plan are:

• Enhance the unique ecology of Crosslake.
• Create vibrant places that connect people with nature.
• Better balance facilities for driving, biking, boating, and walking.
• Provide a diverse balance of housing, business and public amenities and
• Celebrate Crosslake’s Heritage.

According to the plan. “These principles will be promoted as the central stand by which everyone operates – a new way of thinking.”

Erickson said the process to develop the plan was to first engage the community, then develop goals and policies and then to enact the plan.

The first step was to name a Steering Committee. Members of the committee included Mayor Patty Norgaard, City Council member Gary Heacox, City Clerk Char Nelson, Crow Wing County Environmental Services Specialist Jon Kolstad, Leah Heggerston, Linda Randall, Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Aaron Herzog and Economic Development Authority President Dean Fitch.

The Steering Committee developed a community survey that was responded to by ten percent of Crosslake residents. In addition, two “listening sessions” were heard to get feedback and input about the plan update.

When the Committee began writing goals and policies, Erickson said, it made a conscious effort to address three audiences: residents (including businesses and future residents); city staff and city decision makers (including the City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission). The group spent four meetings developing goals and polices in the following subject areas:

• Land Use;
• Housing;
• Economic Vitality;
• Transportation;
• Infrastructure;
• Public Safety;
• Environment;
• Recreation and
• Community Facilities.

The 60-page plan update document contains a chapter for each of these subject areas. Each chapter begins with introductory language addressing the three audiences but is written in such a way that it easy to read for anyone in the general public. Each chapter contains goals and polices.

When creating the plan update, the Steering Committee had an overall goal of limiting the number of goals and policies in the document. “The committee operated under the assumption that if everything is listed as a priority then nothing is a priority,” Erickson said.

The committee did not want to go to all this work to create a document that would just sit on a shelf, Erickson said. The final chapter in the plan update is an implementation chapter.

The first implementation goal is to use the implementation chapter at the annual budget meeting to align the city’s planning priorities with its investment priorities. There are detailed implementation strategies and sub-strategies for each of the plan update's subject areas included in the implementation chapter.

Erickson noted that the update is designed to be implemented over a 10 to 15 year period. And while it does not legally bind the City to accomplish any of its goals, it services as an umbrella policy framework to provide direction for city decision makers, the city staff and residents going forward.

During the public hearing, Crosslaker member Pat Netko praised the plan for its clarity and suggested that language be added in the goals to move toward building a 12-month economy in the city. The commission agreed with the change. Language referencing three sections of town (old, mid-town and downtown) was removed at the request of Mayor Norgaard and Netko.

Adoption of the updated plan was on the agenda of the Crosslake City Council Monday, May 14.

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